By Hannah M. Hayner (Fort Drum Public Affairs)August 28, 2008
It all started in 1848 when a few women sat down together for tea.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton began to chat with her friends at a home in Waterloo. Their conversation led to ideas, their ideas led to action, and their actions led to the women of this nation gaining the right to vote.
It was women such as these, as well as other powerful women of the past, present and future, whom members of the Fort Drum community gathered to honor Aug. 21 at the Commons in celebration of Women's Equality Day.
This day was designated in 1971 to recognize women's continuing efforts toward full equality. Fort Drum celebrated it with a food tasting, a presentation on women's suffrage and a dynamic guest speaker.
Gwen Webber-McLeod, president and CEO of GwenInc. and executive director of the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, spoke of the enormous impact women have had on the world.
"Due to the countless millions of women who planned, organized, lectured, wrote, petitioned, lobbied, paraded and broke ground in every field imaginable, our world is irrevocably changed," she said. "Something amazing happens to a woman when she spends each day steeped in the stories of the women who helped shape our country and world."
Webber-McLeod said her office is only a block away from the site of the first women's rights convention, where Stanton and her friends read the Declaration of Sentiments urging the nation to give women the right to vote.
"As a result of the work I do today, I've had the opportunity to meet many women who walk on the path paved by these great women," she said. "These women made a conscious choice to become leaders. They recognized what they were about to do would place them on a journey with outcomes none could imagine."
Webber-McLeod encouraged all who were present to celebrate the day by letting it be a call to action to make a difference.
"Women who develop the confidence, competence and courage to step boldly into the world do so because they are intentional about being leaders," she said. "Place yourself squarely on the leadership journey, knowing each step you make contributes to this legacy. Everything you do makes a difference in the lives of the girls and women who follow you. ... Please know that what you do really matters."